Internet Law

Conviction Is Reinstated for Neo-Nazi Who Posted Juror's Photo and Address


A Chicago-based federal appeals court has reinstated the conviction of a self-avowed neo-Nazi who posted a jury foreperson’s photo and home address on a white supremacy website.

In a per curiam opinion (PDF), the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the conviction of William White for soliciting the commission of a violent federal crime against the juror. The court found sufficient evidence that White intended to solicit harm and said the crime of solicitation is not protected by the First Amendment.

The targeted juror was among those who convicted white supremacist Matthew Hale in 2004 for soliciting harm to a federal judge. White did not specifically call for harm to the juror when he posted the identifying information in 2008 at overthrow.com, though he had written in 2005 that everyone involved in Hale’s trial should be assassinated.

White’s website was specific about his desire for harm to other individuals, the appeals court said. One post advocated the murder of a Canadian civil rights lawyer, according to the opinion. Another, featuring a photo of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, was headlined, “Kill This N—–?”

A federal judge had reversed White’s conviction for posting the juror information, saying that his intent to harm the juror had not been proven and his post was protected by the First Amendment. The 7th Circuit disagreed. A rational jury could have convicted White “based on the contents of the website, its readership, and other contextual factors,” the opinion said.

“Readers of Overthrow.com were not casual Web browsers, but extremists molded into a community by the Internet—loyal and avid readers who, whether or not they remember every specific solicitation to assassination, knew that Overthrow.com identified hateful enemies who should be assassinated,” the opinion said.

“Though the government did not present a specific ‘solicitee,’ it was unnecessary to do so given the very nature of the solicitation—an electronic broadcast which, a reasonable jury could conclude, was specifically designed to reach as many white supremacist readers as possible so that someone could kill or harm” the juror.

Hat tip to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog Proof & Hearsay.

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